Managing Your Home Based Online Business ? 5
In this series of articles so far, I have argued the need to use management practices even if you have your own home based online business. The discipline imposed on yourself will eventually make the business stronger and more profitable. I have touched upon the need for good financial and marketing management in the last two articles, and will now discuss another area of management that affects all others: Time Management.
To anybody working in an office or factory, time management may well be something they hope to escape from by having their own business. A highly pressured executive may well feel the same. They could work at home, where they?re the boss, and they decide what to do and when. They could watch tv when they want, sit up in bed with their laptops, or without, and numerous other symbols of freedom from being an employee.
Of course, these things are all possible when you work from home. Of all types of home business, though, working online is probably the most difficult to manage from a time point of view. Perhaps difficult is the wrong word. It?s actually easy. What is difficult is the high level of potential online distraction and having to resist it. Add the online distractions to those around you at home, and you have the ingredients for an awful lot of wasted time.
What Are All These Distractions?
There are many potential distractions online. Millions of them when you consider there are millions of websites, and millions of advertisements advertising those websites in often exaggerated, but tempting, ways. If you are trying to get traffic to your own website by surfing for advertising credits, you are particularly vulnerable to distraction, as you may spend a large part of your day being bombarded by advertising. Once you are drawn off into one tempting website, it can lead to others, then others and so on.
The same can be true of your email inbox. You may be signed up to various newsletters and ezines, you may be spammed, you may belong to safelists that require you to receive the owner?s emails. All or some may cause a distraction from your day?s business activity. You may reach the end of the day and suddenly realize: ?Hey, I?ve achieved nothing today.? That can be a demoralizing feeling.
Offline there are many distractions too: you may have children around, your partner may want your company, you may want to laze in the garden as the sun?s come out for the first time in days. There are endless possibilities, depending on your own circumstances, interests and weaknesses. You need to be very much aware of what your own distractions are, and then manage them according to your business, domestic and personal priorities.
How Do You Manage Your Time?
However you manage your time, the first part of the process should be to:
? Decide what the essential elements are for developing and growing your business, steadily and profitably.
? Consider your domestic and personal situation. Now you have your own home business, you have a chance to build into your daily routine activities that will enhance your own happiness and that of your family. This is a great opportunity. Make the most of it.
? Take some quiet time and reflect on the first two items. Let them meld together in your mind and visualize how they can be brought together to make your perfect day/s.
Whatever the outcome of the above three steps, the result is not set in stone. You can change and adapt according to experience, but for now use this as an exercise in getting into a time management frame of mind.
Now that you know what you need to focus on, start to put a bit of pressure on yourself. Not major pressure; that would be counter productive. Start to structure your future, whether one day, one month or one year. Set yourself achievable targets each day, week and month; a list of tasks that you need to do to help your business and you to grow. I use a good old fashioned diary, just to get my eyes away from the screen a while, at the beginning and end of the day, and at intervals as each task is completed. Here are a few tips that I try to stick to:
? Set out a series of tasks to do each day. Make sure they are achievable.
? If you have any regular daily, weekly or monthly tasks (you should have), build them into your diary in advance so they do not get forgotten. For example, I do a daily Blog. That?s there in my diary every day of the week. You will need time set aside to consider finances. Put it in your diary in advance.
? If you have a long task to do, split it over a few days, rather than spend a whole day on the same thing. If it can be split into sub-tasks, all the better. For example, if you?re building a website, you may be able to split it into content headings or pages. Give yourself an achievable amount to do each day, allowing time for other things.
? Try to include one task per day that involves you increasing your knowledge and expertise. For example, if you have a new instructive ebook to read, set aside some time each day for it until finished. When finished, note in your diary to check on your implementation of suggestions you want to adopt. The same goes for new software and other new technology. A steady build up of knowledge can be planned for just by putting these things in your diary and sticking to the plan. Trying to master something new all in one go may cause unnecessary frustration and weariness.
? If you really must surf for advertising credits, do that as your last set task of the day, otherwise you may not achieve as much as you would have.
? If there?s something you can do away from the computer screen, try to plan for it. For example, if you need to plan website content or write an article, you will benefit from at least thinking of the main points by relaxing. If it?s warm, sit in the garden, somewhere to give you a break from the computer.
? If you think you will benefit from so doing, use the same diary to schedule in domestic activities too. Don?t forget, this is your home business. The home and your family are part of it. If you want to take the children to the beach after school, schedule it in. You can do that and still achieve something for your business that day.
? If you find that a task cannot be completed, or its priority should be lessened, don?t try to force yourself to do it the day first scheduled. Reschedule it for another day.
Time management is a very personal thing, especially when you have your own business at home. I am sure you can adopt your own techniques that suit you best. The most important thing to remember, though, is that time needs to be managed. If you?re alone in the business, time is a major limiting factor. It is important you make the most of your time, and for your own morale, to end each working day feeling you?ve achieved something.
About the Author: Roy Thomsitt is the owner of the home business websites http://www.change-direction.com and http://www.home-working-start-up.com